My Two Cents about the Health Benefits.All I can offer here, is a testimonial.
I have personally seen radical changes in my health. Nervous system problems have either diminished or disappeared entirely, and I haven't had a "common cold" in over a year.
In our highly "science-oriented" Western civilisation, we have long shunned that which was inexplicable by science and seemed based on mysticism. As a result, some people who have seen results which appear inexplicable, have made it their life's work to explain or research these subjects scientifically. This makes fascinating reading if you are so inclined click here to visit the Qigong section at Dr. Painter's website.
However, not being a doctor or scientist, all I have to offer is my personal testimonial. I had a severe tremor. I now have what varies from either none to a very slight tremor. My ability to write by hand was almost completely lost; I am now capable of writing several pages by hand before requiring rest. I could no longer open jars, now I can. A year or so ago, I had to hold my one cup of tea or coffee in both hands to avoid spillage or dropping the cup; I can now hold one mug in each hand again without fear of pouring hot beverages all over me and the floor. Previously unavoidable nightly foot and leg cramps have completely disappeared as well as daily hand and arm cramps (although occasional foot cramps occur during the day - usually when I haven't practised for 3 days in a row). I require less sleep and feel better rested. I feel less tense and less "stressed out" by my day to day pressures. Need I say more? I'm sure I could, but if you're not convinced by now, then you won't be convinced by anything more I might add, either. In that case, your best course of action, if you have any interest in this art and its possibilities at all, is to give it a try and see for yourself. As for me, I'm already won over.
Update: March 2001
Friends, relatives and colleagues have recently commented on my improved appearance and capabilities. An office colleague summed it up as follows, "You don't shake as much as you used to!" You're right - and thanks for noticing! *grin*
Update: February 2002
On February 11, I had a follow-up appointment with my neurologist after not seeing him for two years. He remains perplexed as to a specific diagnosis for me, in his words, "...I wish I had a 'box' where I could put you in and say 'this is what you have', but I don't. ..." and on reviewing his files with my father's results, said "I don't have a 'box' for him either!"... He then did some tests and concluded that since he had seen me (two years earlier), all test results but one remained the same. One test showed that I had regained some previously lost strength. I realise that this is slow, but at a time when my symptoms were gradually worsening, it is heartening to see an improvement. Does my doctor credit my improvement to qigong? As he says (I'm paraphrasing here, I don't remember his exact words): 'I've seen too many people who have improved using non-medical methods to discount any such self-help methods. If it is working for you, keep doing it!" If you are considering trying qigong, stop thinking about it and give it a serious try for 3-6 months. If it doesn't help, what have you lost? If it does help, as it did me, it may change your life forever. So try it!
Update: July 2008
After many years of not being able to set up a working, practiceable training time, I now have established daily training. It started about two months ago following a visit to my study group in Toronto for a weekend seminar on Yi Xin Gong with Shifu Painter, when I realized that my physical anomaly was not going to further improve without focused attention on my part, nor were my bagua skills going to improve as much as I'd hope without daily applied training. I asked for and received strength training exercises for my hands from Steve in Toronto which I started training daily as part of my fitness workout. Then in mid-June I participated in a four-day intensive session at the Gompa in Texas that really opened my eyes to what I need to train and where it will lead with my diligent efforts, and now have a morning and evening baguazhang training session. The added benefits of these two types of training are: (1) I can *almost* straighten my hands depending on their position, something I haven't been able to do for years, (2) overall body shape and strength is improving slightly, and (3) irregular muscle spasms have again started to disappear. While my physical ailment will never be cured, I am again reminded of this art's ability to help me to diminish and eliminate its effects by regular practise. Note that I have not been practising qi gong but just the martial art, and I am considering starting the qi gong practise again as I am sure it will only reinforce these excellent improvements I've been experiencing.
More Information: Links to the Experts